Go After Your Dreams

Go After Your Dreams

Jennifer Ables

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


Go After Your Dreams


Despite everything I went through go after your dreams. Go after what it is your heart tells you that you want to do. For me it's worse to live in the what would have been and regret decisions I didn't make or things I didn't go for versus going and learning. Your going to learn. If you accept that failing is also part of succeeding then that is all part of the big lesson. If I were to sit back and wonder what would have happened if I had actually done that non profit thing, Put a little bit more effort into that. I Can't live with that kind of regret.


The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

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by everything that i went through go after your dreams like go after what it is that your heart tells you that you want to do because for me it's worse to live in the what would have been and regret for the decisions i didn't make or things i didn't go for versus going and learning like you're gonna learn and if you accept that failing is also part of succeeding then that's all part of the big lesson but if i were to sit back and wonder i wonder what would have happened if i had actually you know done that non-profit thing put a little bit more effort into that and i i can't live with that kind of regret [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today we have another great guest on the jennifer ables and jennifer had her degree i think it was an insurance or at least had a degree related to insurance uh went to the insurance industry for a period of time left the insurance industry to be a ballroom dancer did that for a period of time loved the the part-time almost better than the full-time so moved uh to doing a um uh full-time gig over and i think it was was it ballroom dancing with a full-time gig for a period of time and then uh went from that loved it so much but then had a injury that uh left her at least partially mobile or not able to do the ballroom dancing as much as she would like so started a charity to do with dancing but for the wounded warriors and then has moved to doing kind of online courses and presentations about burnout from there so kind of just a uh eclectic uh journey that went uh went a few different directions and excited to hear more about it so with that welcome to the podcast jennifer thank you i appreciate it thanks for having me so i gave a brief overview but maybe start starting kind of graduating and going into insurance and how that went and how that went to or took you to where you're at today it's um it's quite a jointed journey if you're only looking at it in the forward direction but looking back you can kind of sort of connect the dots um i did agree on insurance and risk management uh i took spanish from college but i didn't want to become a teacher um i was i found to do a business thing so you have a double major international business so i chose insurance i really liked the idea of like human resources and young people so that was my motivation behind it um and then when my first job transferred me out to pittsburgh i didn't know anybody and a lot of the office was older than i was so i was trying to find a place to connect and how to connect with people and that's when i stumbled upon ballroom dancing and i was like ah this will be a fun hobby and then that hobby i started traveling competing loved it and had always been a dancer so this is just kind of a new discipline to pick up within dance so when they offered me a chance to teach full-time i was like wait is this this is crazy right to leave behind my college degree the job the you know expense account the comfy the like should do job versus the like yeah but this is what i really want to do and it'll pay me it won't pay me anything near where i was getting paid before but you know i consulted with my dad and he said it's rare in this world that you find a job that you love so you should go for it so it did and i loved it i was teaching and then i moved out to the dc area was still teaching competing and then in 2003 i fell during a dance competition and injured my spine long story short of that is that i was out for five years with therapy and rehab and left with a permanent partial disability in my spine and then i decided i deserved a start over so i moved myself to sunny san diego kind of doing the same thing again where i didn't know anybody had no friends and family or job here i just was like i'll figure it out i get there um i just knew i was like i'm not gonna dance again and then one thing question before that so diving in this a little bit more so went from insurance decided okay went into the insurance industry started out just dancing as a hobby loved it so much you decided hey this is fun and so you started i think you said you started off as a part-time and then it grew enough to be a full-time is that right yeah so and you met you hit on it briefly but you know conventionally insurance industry seems like a better paying job and a more stable job than a dance instructor right especially if you're talking times of cobit today where everything's shut down you can't really do a lot of face-to-face and in person insurance through maybe a bit more so and but you said you know it sounded like you were wanting to move over but you were kind of having the same question so you mentioned part of it was talking with your dad but how did you really make the leap of what seems to be a stable job to what seems to be chasing your passions was it just simply that easy was it over a period of months did you try and balance both full-time jobs or kind of how did you make that transition that's a great question i actually really thought i could balance them both i thought i could do my corporate job nine to five and then teach in the evening and it started out that i i was doing that successfully but then i i looked so forward to my evening job my part-time work um then i didn't really care so much about my daytime work and as i noticed my quality of work starting to slip that's a definite like ethic line for me personally in my personal ethics like i'm always gonna show up i'm always gonna give my best and i was like ooh you're not doing that so you you need to make it you need to make a change and whether that changes that you drop that and pursue the more certain career path or you drop that and pursue what your heart is telling you to do um so it wasn't necessarily that it was an easy decision but i could see where i was not living in alignment with my own values by being sloppy in my daytime job um but also you know being in my late 20s and looking around at people who hated their jobs and that this was what i was supposed to aspire to i was like oh this is i don't know that that's that's not really a great path ahead if they're in their early 30s and saying i feel stuck i wish i could do that i wish i could pick up and leave and i'm like wait why why can't you why why do people feel so stuck and i do feel like there's a definite part of me that um kind of lives by the mind of like what's the worst that could happen if it didn't didn't work doesn't work out you know you still have college degree you can go back and and do something but i dove right in and if it wasn't for my injury i'd probably still be running a ballroom dancing in dc okay yeah no i think that gives a good insight as to kind of how you made that decision so now question before we dive into after you got injured but why are you doing ballroom dancing so you finally made that decision and said hey work is slipping not what i enjoy i have a passion i think i can make i've been offered an opportunity this is a full-time gig was that a prior to the injury was that did that go smoothly was it chasing your dreams was it everything you thought of was it more hard or difficult or kind of how did that path go for you it it was not like that it was so easy it was simple like the adjustment income was was like the only real hiccup but i loved what i was doing um i've always been a teacher i love teaching so to switch to becoming a dance instructor and then getting to film my own passion of competing on in the weekends um i mean it was like i had no reason to look anywhere else everything was so fulfilling for me yes like this and i could also tie in my business degree i mean running a dance studio is not just you know happy fun times you still have to sell lessons you still have to train employees you still have to do all the things so um i feel like still a lot of that structure that i got from business school um could apply even though the thing that i would happen to be selling wasn't some intangible thing like you can't physically hand someone a cha-cha no i think that makes sense so now now jumping forward to the injury they talked about hey you you know you made the leap you're doing you know not perfect you always have to do some things of a job that aren't as fun or but you still have to sell and you had duplicates you know kind of chasing your dream and then you got injured so how did you deal with that injury was you know kind of depressed down in the dump slump said nope no got to move on the next thing you're kind of how did you as you got injured you can't just continue on what you were doing and you know you're looking at the opportunity how did you deal with that or make the next transition uh that was the hardest uh prior to my more recent burnout at that time that was the hardest thing i'd ever gone through because i you know as i was sitting there in constant physical pain my legs would go numb after 10 15 minutes of sitting still like and just what it does to your brain to be in constant physical pain so not only have i have my doctors told me i have to find a new hobby which at this point i'm angry because that's not hobby that's my job um but to also be told that i shouldn't shouldn't or wouldn't do this should this career again in dancing but also anytime i tried to move being in pain it was like wait a minute i thought i thought this is what the journey was supposed to be about i thought the journey was you find your passion you follow your passion your happily ever after comes right after that and i was like that's what the movies say exactly and then i was like i i thought i was lucky because i figured it out in my you know late 20s that this is what i was going to do and it was really confusing for me and um it's part of um it's it's the start of the work that i do now in dunes personal development with um with my online programs is that i had my whole identity like as a human all of my value kind of wrapped up in this job so if i didn't have the job i didn't you know i had a really hard time feeling like i don't know what my place is in the world because i thought this i thought i had it all figured out and i thought i had it all figured out now that it's gone now i don't know what to do um so it was it was a long battle both with my physical injuries and my mental injury so i did i did a lot of therapy um to try to come out the other side a little bit stronger and i'm really fortunate that i had great friends and family who also you know loved me back to health hey well it's always great to have that support system and it can oftentimes make the difference between a good and a quick recovery and a longer you know less effective recovery so for sure for sure so now then you after you kind of dealt with the you know you're out of commission you had the injury you couldn't do that then what did you do during that time when you had the injury does that you know we talked a little bit before the show you move you moved on to the wounded warriors and incorporated them then so is that what you did as soon as you had the injury you next day you went to wounded warriors or how did you make that transition from dance instructor chasing your dreams over to wounded warriors well the with the injury i was out of work for five five years and i had multiple surgeries during that time so my sole focus during that time was recovery and also um recovery of my mental health as much as my physical health to get strong enough again and i had i had a fear i was living in the washington dc area at the time and i kept getting so afraid that i was going to slip and fall on the ice and revert and reverse all of the progress i had made so i started getting this idea in my head that i should move to california and i don't know you know whatever possessed me like i don't know it's just an idea and so i came out here and i took like a week-long trip just check it out and i was like this seems nice i'll figure it out here and i'd never read anything bad about san diego so i i literally chose a roommate off of craigslist which hindsight maybe not your best choice no she turned it to be she turned out to be great but just kind of like a scary like oh that's a thing um so so how did you first of all you were in new york and then you moved to california which are both of which are fairly expensive so did you were you on disability at the time did you have family support did they help you out you know what or unemployment or how did that work or you know how did you kind of make a living during that time when you're doing all the recovery um so it drained all my savings for sure uh i also had work comp as part of it but then my family really helped me through the rest of it and when i told my um my family that i was thinking about moving to california my dad just kind of threw up his hands like i know better than to argue with you so let's go i guess this is what we're doing okay so they helped they helped get me you know started out here and um you know i it was i literally i started looking for jobs and insurance again insurance or sales because in in the dance world i have a ton of sales training and the fact that i could sell an intangible object like a dance lesson to me was like that's my confidence of i can sell i can sell anything i've sold insurance policies i don't want to go back to that but if i have to i will and i actually did interview with some uh some other some some insurance companies and i had an interview with for another sales job and i almost took it but at the time i i just started one day a week volunteering at the naval medical center in san diego teaching teaching this one dance class and it was one of those dances like a skill that you once you have you have for life just one of the things that i love about ballroom dancing so while i was looking for other jobs i started teaching just on the side and only a little bit and only new people things that wouldn't put my back and my health in jeopardy again so while i was there the owner of the studio where i was teaching is mary murphy from the fox tv show so you think you can dance and she she sent me out to the navy hospital to teach like i said what was supposed to be a six week class and it just started kind of growing and i felt really passionate about this kind of new mission of you know the gentleman i was working with when i first started were all marines and sailors uh combat injured from iraq and afghanistan had lost one or more limbs most had been fitted with a prosthetic could walk could run on their prosthetic so dance was just it was a physical therapy challenge um to spin and to to move in different directions but there was also a cognitive piece of it for those with traumatic brain injuries to be able to remember a series of steps and then those who also had post-traumatic stress who were having a challenge you know feeling depressed feeling isolated and finding a way to connect through dance so um it was one of those where looking back i'm like oh if i went through this whole terror on injury at least it gives me some compassion and understanding and empathy for what these folks are going through of constant physical pain losing your career being in depression so there was a lot that i could relate to even though obviously i don't have any relation of what it's like to be in combat but going through injuries and pain and all of the things and that dance you know dance is what took me out of it but if i then could bring dance back in into my life in this really meaningful way it felt like so purposeful um that it's it it started taking on a life of its own and like i said i interviewed for another sales job and i almost took it but they wanted me to give up the dancing at the hospital the navy hospital i was like oh something in my gut tells me don't do that no and what's interesting and i'm trying to look up who's trying to look at the episode as you were talking because we had on one of the episodes previous episodes of inventive journey we had what was a combat veteran and he actually had and it was it started out kind of as and i'll see if i can find the the episode number as we talk but he had a what was it more of a traumatic brain injury started kind of he served a few tours and then he actually came back from was getting was recovering from his injury was using biking as a way to kind of work out and then he had a um bike crash which actually then caused the final kind of blow that um created the traumatic brain injury and he went through and talked about um how he you know he would go to the the store and he wouldn't even remember why he was at the store he'd walk out and he wouldn't remember how to get home and he'd have to call his wife up and say where am i at and how do i get home and so i certainly get you know working with those individuals and heart goes out to all of them and you know certainly uh one that i think is would be a hard thing to go through for anybody so i think kudos to him and to you and everybody that's you know having the job of helping the veterans and those that are in need so now you you find that you say okay i'm going to do wounded warrior i'm going to make that as my next kind of pat you know passionate job and something i could have an effect on and really what i can do to make it better how did that go and then i you know how did you also move or transition over to online courses and talking about burnout the the nonprofit is something you know i have a degree in business but we never study nonprofits in school so um i had an idea in my head that well i don't i don't think that these you know america's sons and daughters i don't feel like what they've gone through they should then have to pay for dance classes or pay for any kind of therapy like wouldn't this doesn't this sound like in my head i'm like doesn't that sound like a non-profit is and i called one of my former dance students in the dc area and i asked him he's an attorney and i was like hey isn't this a non-profit idea and he said sure is go former board of directors and i was like uh do what now so you know i just i went to the library i got a ton of books on non-profits and how you start them and i just started sharing with as many people as would listen to me uh what it was i was doing what i wanted to do what i could see happening how i could see this growing and that i needed help for the parts that i didn't know that i didn't understand like i really get the the what i'm doing and why i'm doing it but the like logistics of how i'm gonna need some help with um so you know as as that started to grow we started to get different locations and by the end we had 24 locations throughout the us and we sponsored salsa night in afghanistan um i had been invited to the white house in 2016 for it was called the united state of women summit specifically for the work that we were doing with female veterans with military sexual trauma and how dance was helping helping them regain control and balance and trust and all things that are really important and as a side note as you're thinking so i did look up it's episode 20 if you ever want to check out is this name is michael malone and he here it's kind of just dovetails in with a lot of yeah about working with veterans so it's a cool episode so you did that so now you might so you did that and it sounded like you know you got four locations it was going well you know you're working on it as a non-profit and as a charitable making a lot of impact and then did you get burned out or kind of you know what what happened after a period of time that led you to where you're at today well the thing that i'm i mean that i knew in the back of my head but i didn't know real well is the challenge the challenge of non-profits right i mean we're we can be heavy on the non part of profit so there's the there's the detail of what are you teaching why are you teaching how are you teaching but then there's the like this organization still needs to be run it's still we still need to raise funds i you know all of my dance network from my dance days reaching out to see in somebody in dc wants a class somebody in boston wants a class somebody in texas wants a class as the more people are hearing about what we're doing the more locations i felt like we needed so which meant the more money we needed so there was that whole arm of non-profits that was wearing hats of like okay i am the social media person i am the executive director i'm the founder but i'm also the teacher i'm also the trainer so having all if at some point you don't start delegating and taking some of those hats off the weight of those can crush you um and to me that's where my burnout came from i had i was getting sick but i felt like i didn't have i didn't have an option to slow had pneumonia six times in one year and my doctors are begging me to slow down and to stop and i'm like i can't i have this thing and it's only me and if i'm out there is an organization i have to keep going and i was working a second job at the time as well um again just to try to keep myself afloat while i could keep my charity afloat and it just it got to be too much and at some point it was either i was going to go or the organization was going to go so i had to step back i took a medical leave of absence and after a month it was really clear that i needed to resign so i found my replacement hired my replacement and resigned and let go uh which was its own challenge and then really faced where i was physically uh injured but also in that really exhausted depressed mental space again similar to like i was with my dance injury that man i just spent seven years building up this thing and i'm like oh no this is my new purpose this is what i'm supposed to do and now it's gone so i'm back at like this own crisis moment i you know i call it my own identity crisis moment of well crap eat all these every time i do this i feel like oh i've got it figured out i'm doing the thing i'm supposed to be doing and now it's gone so that's so that's really dovetails into like the work i do now is helping other people either realize when they're in that a lot of people already know that they're there but there's this cord that especially in the us where we we connect our value and our worth to our jobs you know when he asks you what you do you always tell them about your job you know we have this and it's good to be proud of what you do but if all of your value internally comes from just work and you're not looking at other things in your life and the fact that you're a good person or you're a kind person and how you can bring out these other gifts that you have into the world then you you're kind of going to end up a little bit lost in like where i was at that burnout spot so now that work i do is taking people through literally through the steps that i took over the last several years to get myself out of that really dark space of how do how do you find your worth how do you you know once once you're lost and down this path and don't know how to find your way out how do you find a little bit of light to keep going no i think that makes complete sense and i think it's one where people can often times especially if you get hit a few times it's how do you pick yourself up how do you keep moving forward how do you deal with you know life's uncertainties and and how to make sure you don't get burned out and how to make sure that you are able to continue doing the things that you love so yeah with that so now as we get towards the end of the podcast and we've heard your journey i always have two questions that i ask about your journey which are so we'll jump to those so the first question i ask is what was the worst business decision you made and how what did you learn from it it's a really great question because i think a lot of entrepreneurs go through the same process of taking on too many roles and not delegating there's a a great uh john maxwell book uh talent is never enough um where he talks about do the things that you're talented in and then find other people who are talented in other categories there's no need for me to be keeping spreadsheets and trying to learn accounting for non-profits when what my talent was was training and teaching and speaking and all of these other things but i was spending so much time and frustration and energy in an area where i'm not good at i have to start from scratch there are other people that could have done that but i was like no i i should probably do that i should i should save some expenses and do it all myself don't do it all yourself talent is never enough just your own talent find other people who are passionate and can do the things that you can't do or that you don't enjoy doing i promise you like i found someone who loves spreadsheets loves quickbooks i didn't think those kind of people existed so when i finally like let go and let her start taking over things i was like oh my god so much of my time has freed up but also like my the energy that this so man you don't have to do it all yourself nor should you because that also to me is part of part of where the burnout came from you wore every single hat almost do that i mean a lot of times you kind of tell yourself well hey i can do this quicker i can do this better and if i hire someone on i'm going to have to train them i'm going to have to bring him up to speed or i'm going to you know again that's going to take longer and i'll just hurry do it myself and that's kind of one of the lessons i even learned kind of similar to that is hey even if first of all you can't do everything the best there are other people that are more talented but even if you were to say you are the best at all the different things and you could do the best you're still hampering what you're able to do how much you're able to do how many people you're able to reach and all of that by not bringing other people in by trying to keem or you know keep it all to yourself you're limiting your ability to grow and to expand the business and do all you know accomplish everything that needs to get done so i think that's a good lesson learned and you know mistakes and often times is made yeah yeah now we jump to the second question which is if you're to talk and it kind of dovetails a new first quest or first answer but talking with someone that's just getting to a startups or small businesses one piece of advice you'd give them despite everything that i went through go after your dreams like go after what it is that your heart tells you that you want to do because for me it's worse to live in the what would have been and regret for the decisions i didn't make or things i didn't go for versus going and learning like you're gonna learn and if you accept that failing is also part of succeeding then that's all part of the big lesson but if i were to sit back and wonder i wonder what would have happened if i had actually you know done that non-profit thing put a little bit more effort into that and i i can't live with that kind of regret no i mean those are both good uh good lessons to learn good piece of pieces of advice so as we wrap up if people want to learn more about you know what you're doing about avoiding burnout about your courses and your information that you provide and anything else what's the best way to reach out to your connect with you website's the easiest way to go which is jen abel's one n j e n a b l e s dot com all right well i encourage everybody to check out the website find out more and certainly utilize your information and your your courses and whatnot to be able to avoid burnout and to be able to also follow their dreams so it's been a pleasure to have you on jen it's been fun it's been interesting to hear a journey now for everybody else that is a listener if you have your own journey to tell feel free to reach out to us at inventivejourneyguest.com to apply to be a guest on the show and tell your journey if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe on whichever platform you listen so you get notifications as all the new episodes come out and lastly if you ever need help with patents and trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller iplaw well thank you again jen it's been fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you so much all right English (auto-generated) All Conversation Recently uploaded

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